Jacob Blake. Another racially charged police shooting, resulting in more social unrest–when will it end? Actually, it won’t until the new heaven and the new earth, when Jesus comes again to make all things new and banish all evil and brokenness once and for all.
Does that mean there’s nothing we can do in the meantime? Of course not! God is perfectly capable of completely eradicating this or any other form of evil just like that, but He tends to prefer to accomplish His purposes by having His people work on His behalf. As much as it grieves Him to see evil take hold of someone’s heart, I think the joy He must feel when one of His followers does something to help another human being in His name surely outweighs the grief.
So what can we do in this horrible situation we find ourselves in? What can I, an insignificant person living in an insignificant town, do to end systemic racism, as the social justice mantra of the day demands? That is a tall order, indeed. Well, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Perhaps instead of trying to end systemic racism, I can search myself, examine my own soul and motivations, to make sure I don’t harbor any judgement toward any other group of human beings because of what they look like or believe or sound like, or any other way of differentiating others from myself. God will be glad to help all of us with this, if we ask Him to show us any such rivers of darkness flowing through our soul, and eliminate them for us.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive say in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.Psalms 139:23-24 – A simple prayer to ask God to find seeds of racism in our own hearts, and eliminate them in order to find find the way everlasting
Further, I can remember that Jesus saw fit to give His life for every single person I encounter, and by remembering that, I can treat them with the kindness and dignity and respect that Jesus would offer them. The Gospels are full of stories about Jesus surprising everyone, even His closest followers, by engaging with people who didn’t matter, people different from Him: women, children, Samaritans, adulteresses, tax collectors, Roman soldiers, lepers. Jesus risked His neck by protecting the woman caught in adultery. He risked His reputation by speaking to the “racially inferior” Samaritan woman. He supposedly became unclean by touching lepers, so He risked not being able to enter a place of worship.
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”John 8:7 – The simple yet brilliant statement Jesus gives in defense of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Side question: Why was the man not also dragged in front of Jesus…?
Oh, to be known as someone who loves others sacrificially, even people different from me, even when it’s risky, like Jesus did… Jesus showed us that everyone matters to God, so everyone should matter to us too.
If everyone acted this way, the problem of racism, as well as many other evils in this broken world, would end immediately. But unfortunately, there are far too many people in the world who are not followers of Christ–and sadly, even too many who are–who have no interest in trying to mimic Jesus’ behaviors. So we can’t stop at eradicating all traces of racism from ourselves.
So what else can we do?
If we encounter a situation where someone is being treated unjustly, and especially if that seems to be motivated by race or some other unfair judgment, we can step and try to peaceably resolve the situation. If we know someone who is a racist or displaying racist tendencies, we can lovingly point it out to them and offer to help them navigate away from that river of darkness. We can offer job opportunities to qualified minority candidates. We can reach out to people who are different from us, treat them kindly, and find common ground between ourselves and them. In the grand scheme of things, there really are many more things that we have in common with any person anywhere on the planet than there are differentiate us.
I could go on, but the possibilities are truly endless, limited only by our creativity and other unique gifts God gave each of us.
We may not be able to end racism, but I can end it in me, and you can end it in you. We can lovingly and peaceably help others we are already in relationship with identify and end it in themselves. We can treat our fellow human beings with kindness and show them love–real, true, sacrificial love that puts others above ourselves–the way Jesus would. We can find common ground for us to stand on together, and invite others to come along too. It may not seem like much, but goodness can add up, multiply, and even grow exponentially, so that one day it will overcome evil.
I look forward to that day so much that I deeply desire to do my part to bring it about, to make it a reality. To help love and kindness win. Won’t you join me?